E-learning has emerged as a revolutionizing concept in 21st century. It has given numerous opportunities to educational institutes and students in the form of flexibility, construction of knowledge and knowledge transfer using electronic media components. Contemporary services are more in need of e-learning facilities especially for educational institutes that aim at providing convenience and flexibility to students with better accessibility to course material/information content.
E-learning websites have popularity due to its enormous benefits to individuals; however, raised several ethical and social issues that need to be addressed. E-Learning Sites Growth of internet and advancement in technology integration for supporting application processes has provided an opportunity to educational institutes to move towards e-learning educational facilities. E-learning sites provide user accessibility to course material from diverse places that increases the flexibility and information sharing capabilities of system.
Majority of universities have developed e-learning management systems for its students that have multiple advantages both to university and students (Stair, 2008). These learning management systems involve the integration of technology and communication medium to enhance learning processes. Students have access to electronic features routing them to information sharing, customizability of information, presence of electronic contents and downloading features for supporting advance and better learning processes.
Considering the advantages of e-learning sites several issues in dimensions of ethics, social, and professional principles arise that require evaluating the functionality and viability of e-learning sites. These issues place consideration on information system developers for proper analyzability and management to restrain the system effectiveness from potential risks associated with such issues. A number of social, ethical and professional issues have arisen concerning the development of e-learning sites for a university.
These issues include the exercise of power, data quality, access to data and system, privacy and data protection, intellectual property rights of material available on website, plagiarism and copyright policy, prevention of fraudulent actions by users, equity for users, and impact of such information and communication system on the perception of individuals (Weert, 2003). E-learning Sites and Ethical Issues Electronic data is accessible to users irrespective of geographical boundaries. However, certain restrictions by regulatory authority may restrict the flow of traffic from specific IP locations.
Development of e-learning sites although provided many benefits to individuals but also resulted in certain ethical implications for a professional. These ethical issues require proper management in order to maintain the practicability of system. It is essential for professional to analyze the component system of e-learning sites. Site should provide quality data to students based on their educational standard and need; such as availability of research papers and reference sections is being provided to university students.
Data quality available on site must be proven for effective information and knowledge transfer ability to users that increase the understanding and enhance the knowledge level at better rate (Azari, 2003). Material available on e-learning websites is exposed to certain ethical challenges which include intellectual property rights; copy/pasting of text highlighting the principles of plagiarism, and use of owner’s content without his prior permission which directly affects the legal procedure for cyber theft crime (Azari, 2003).
Such issues require maintaining the content material ownership rights and copyright policy in compliance with legal code of conduct. Students are given access to wider range of information and material content uploaded by teachers, and university management for students’ flexibility; such material content can be downloaded, easily transformed and integrated into other piece of content. This raises question on ethical responsibility of students for preserving the rights of material available on e-learning site and require considering it as theft, and cheating in case of plagiarised material (Weert, 2003).
Cyber-technology provides accessibility to system development content which is exposed to serious threats for modification and alteration that reduces the effective functionality of such e-learning websites (Azari, 2003). Considering the role of e-learning sites in providing rich information benefit to students; viability issues raised on the ethical principles of information issue and subsequent loss risk for other student associated with such malpractices. E-learning Sites and Social Issues E-learning site development also encompasses certain social issues in relation to subjecting ethical obligations.
System development professional must ensure that e-learning site for university does not result in discrimination at operative level. At some places, racial and cultural discrimination is observed by restricting the right of specific group to e-learning site (Adams & McCrindle, 2008). This results in serious destructive behaviour by students affecting the reputation of university. Focus must be given to equity principles for users to e-learning site functions and materials irrespective of gender, racial or cultural differences. E-learning sites now offer advantages to student to share their views in blog’s section page on e-learning site.
Such functionality components although are encouraging students to be productive in information and views sharing, but in some cases it create discrepancies among students behaviour which results in destructive behaviour action by students (Weert, 2003). It must be ensured that such blog section provides access to students only to filtered blog content. Perception of student is also influenced greatly by the information available on website and communication system that directly impact their behaviour and constructive attitude building.
However, in consideration to that social issues strengthen concerning e-learning site; therefore, greater emphasis should be on formal aspects of education. Discriminatory behaviour must be restricted and equitable social practices must be adopted towards providing facility to students irrespective of their social class (Cross et al. , 2002). This would enhance the equity principle for learning and enhance the effectiveness of system. E-learning Sites and Professional Issues A number of professional issues are associated with e-learning sites development. First of all, security concern of sites must be addressed.
Plagiarism, data theft, and unauthorized accessed to secure and restricted contents by users must be prevented through proper security system management (Bullen & Janes, 2007). Professional issues enlarge concerning the prevention of fraudulent actions by users, and managing the access rights for specific group. Such as teachers panel must not be viewable to students, and students must have access to material only related their subjects. Customizability of features and privacy in relation to intellectual property rights advances the responsibility of professional towards addressing the ethical issues.
E-learning sites encompass application system to foster easy access to information content for students. Professional must ensure that system procedure manual is easily conveyable to students and users while maintaining their privacy rights. Copyright policy must need to be formed to address the potential risk of plagiarism and copy/pasting of material irrespective of owner’s consent (Adams & McCrindle, 2008). Related to this site security and content access must be proactive to potential harms and risks of modification by unidentified identity.
Students are more oriented towards cracking the shortcut methods for doing their academic works especially assignments. Hence they prefer copying it from source that can not be detected from plagiarism detection software (Khan, 2005). Including to this, material available on e-learning sites can be changed and uploaded on other e-learning sites without consent of actual teacher especially presentation files. Professionals criticize this activity by claiming it as malpractices and direct theft on the intellectual property of teacher.
Hence cyber crime act protect individuals (owners) from such activities and enforce legislations for preventing issues like unauthorized access to e-learning site material resources, protect intellectual property owner rights, and specifies code line for legal obligations on e-learning sites (Cross et al. , 2002). RECOMMENDATIONS Considering the issues specified in the above text following recommendation will enable managing the issues effectively. First of all, a specific user id and password must be assigned to all individuals on equality basis.
To limit the unauthorized access student must be allowed to view only contents of courses in which he is registered. To protect the unauthorized use of owners’ material downloading option must be removed; only view feature for specific files will allow university to protect intellectual property rights and avoid plagiarism cases (Khan, 2005). Access to data can be secured through encryption of data content which will enable to access only limited feature and restrict the unwanted users to decrypt the high quality data content.
In order to effectively manage the social issues associated with e-learning sites complete freedom must be given to students irrespective of their cultural/racial differences. E-learning site should encompass a protection feature to avoid fraudulent actions by users; document sharing feature by students must be refine and only approved featured responses/sharing documents by students must be allowed to visible on e-learning site for user flexibility (Adams & McCrindle, 2008). CONCLUSION E-learning sites are attractive solutions for university to manage its need for information and learning material sharing with students.
However, certain issues related to security, fraudulent actions, and malpractices by students such as plagiarism content reduce the effectiveness of such system. In order to effectively manage the ethical, professional and social issues for e-learning sites system developer must use contemporary techniques being used by other e-learning sites developers that not only maintains system security but also provides flexibility and customization feature to both students and faculty members while managing the issues related to intellectual property rights, plagiarism, and quality of data availability including accessibility based on equity rights.
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Implementing e-learning. Edition: 1. American Society for Training and Development Khan, Badrul Huda. (2005). Managing e-learning: design, delivery, implementation, and evaluation. Edition: 1. Idea Group Inc. Stair, Ralph M. (2008). Principles of Information Systems. Edition: 9. Cengage Learning Weert, Tom J. Munro, Robert K. (2003). Informatics and the digital society: social, ethical, and cognitive issues. Edition: 1. Springerlink